Under the Duke's Laws, equity jurisdiction was vested in the Court of Assizes. On November 1, 1683, a Court of Chancery was established by name. It consisted of the Governor (or his designee) assisted by the Council and held sessions in the Council Chamber. The court was continued by the Judicature Act of 1691, expired by operation of law in 1698, was revived by ordinance in 1701, was suspended in 1703 and finally re-established in 1704.
The Assembly, although aware of the need for a court of equity, opposed the Court of Chancery on the grounds that the Crown did not have the right to establish courts in the Colony. The Assembly also objected to the composition of the court (the Governor and Council acting as a court) and considered the decrees of the court oppressive.
The Court of Chancery was continued by the Constitution of 1777. The Chancellor, assisted by Masters and Examiners, was appointed by the State Council of Appointment. The Court of Chancery ceased to exist in 1847 when the third State Constitution went into effect. The 1846 constitution reorganized the judiciary, vested equity and common law jurisdiction in the Supreme Court, and established the New York Court of Appeals as the court of final appeal.
Chancellors of the State Court of Chancery:
Robert R. Livingston, appointed May 8, 1777
John Lansing, Jr., appointed October 21, 1801
James Kent, appointed October 25, 1814
Nathan Sanford, appointed August 1, 1823
Samuel Jones, appointed January 24, 1826
Ruben H. Walworth, appointed April 22, 1828
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